Here are some ways to get more out of your workout the next time you go the gym:
1. Shorten recovery time: In the vast majority of instances, you do not need full recovery between exercises. People have a tendency to “dream” or socialize between sets/exercise. We are all busy people, so if you make the gym a social hour, there will inevitably be less time for exercise. Just keep telling yourself why you came to the gym in the first place…
2. Active rest: Do some abs or work a different muscle group while you are resting. Looking at the ceiling between sets or exercises should be minimized.
3. Mix-it-up: Avoid getting stuck in the same routine – throw some variety into your workouts. If you feel like you aren’t quite making your expectations, it may be an indication that your workout regimen has become stale and the muscles aren’t getting as stimulated as before. Try to work in some new exercises or change up your routine to work the muscles from a different angle.
4. Total Body: Don’t just focus the same muscle area every time you go to the gym (for guys, this tends to be bis or chest). If you don’t work all the major muscle groups (at some point during the week), including back, chest, bis, tris, and legs, you are going to end up with some awkward looking results. As Arnold Schwarzenegger says, you have to be a sculptor – when you add muscle to one place, you have add muscle everywhere else to maintain proportionality.
5. Drink Water: During and after your workout. Carry a large water bottle with you and make sure to drink often during you workout. Water is preferable, but if you need a pick-me-up, energy drinks like Zipfizz, Cytomax, Accelerade, etc. are acceptable (try to not make a habit out of taking these energy powders every time).
6. Day of Rest: Take a day off once a week to allow for physical and mental rejuvenation. Every muscle group can get overworked and the worse thing you can do is make going to the gym a chore.
7. Find a partner: If working out solo is getting old, try to find a partner of similar capabilities. Sometimes partnering up can motivate both participants to lift harder, longer, and more efficiently. Of course, avoid the trap of over-socializing.
8. Set a time: If you’ve got a gym workout scheduled for a similar time every day, you are less likely to skip out. For some people this means doing it in the morning, and for others, it means the afternoon/evening. I recommend working out at the time you feel the best or enjoy the most (qualified below).
9: Go when it’s not busy: If possible, try to go the gym at off-peak hours (at Arrillaga gym the packed hours are usually in the afternoon from 4 pm to 6 pm). When too many people are walking around, you waste time waiting for weights/machines and you simply can’t get around to as many exercises.
10: Warm-up: This entails different things for different people and goals, but a warm-up of some kind is important. Essentially don’t start the workout with a one rep max. Instead, begin with some relatively light weight exercises (10+ reps) and then build up to the heavy stuff. Shocking your muscles right off the bat is not productive and can cause injury.
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Related: Building a Great Exercise Program